This is another Great Interview Question, but because it helps the recruiter get at information the candidate may not otherwise furnish willingly. One the most important things a recruiter needs to know is if the candidate is really interested in the job. Especially when the market is so soft, everybody’s applying to everything. I’ve had candidates ask me “What is it your company does again? I applied to so many places that I get them mixed up.” Well that’s just not acceptable. But you can’t just ask someone if they’re serious about my position, because the answer will invariably be ‘yes.’ (Though I’d love to hear someone say No.) So now I ask what other jobs the candidate has applied for. If those jobs are all in my industry, then I know they’re serious. If they’ve applied to myriad positions across ten different industries, then I know they don’t necessarily have their heart set on my job, they’re just looking for a job.
Though there’s nothing wrong with not knowing if my job/industry is right and wanting more information. I’ve hired some very solid performers even though I needed to describe the industry and their expected role in great detail. I think I’ve even had to convince a few rock stars that they should work for me, and I’m glad I did. But even so, it’s nice to know where a candidate is really coming from, and asking indirectly is the easiest way to do it.
Candidates, if you get asked this question, the only recourse is to be honest. If you pretend to be applying for similar jobs at the competition, recruiters will ask you about it. And if you can’t back up your story, you’ll be sunk.
Here’s my updated list of Great Interview Questions.